Presidents Letter April 2019

Dear Kentucky Tennis Family,


In the last newsletter, I mentioned that USTA is going through a rather significant season of change and that I hoped to share with you more after attending the USTA National Meeting in Austin, Texas. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that in the following letter.


Let me begin by saying that it was a great weekend, with Kentucky sending 10 representatives from our state!  From what I am told, this is the most Kentucky has sent in many years, maybe ever!  I hope this makes you as proud as it does me…it’s really a testament to our volunteer network and USTA Kentucky leadership that little ole’ Kentucky is so well represented on a national level.  And we aren’t just showing up, we have serious leadership happening on various national committees. 


As I anticipated, the theme of the weekend was certainly focused around the idea of change and what it takes to be a leader.  USTA President Patrick Galbraith spoke at the Saturday general session on the importance of collecting and understanding data and utilizing it to evaluate how we’re doing, where we’re going and how to get there.  I believe that we’ll start to see a more data driven USTA under his leadership.


For me the highlight was hearing guest speaker Gabriel Gomez. There isn’t enough room here to give you a full bio for Gabriel, but suffice it to say, he brought the house down after describing his childhood, schooling at the US Naval Academy where he played tennis, and then about his time as a US Naval Aviator flying planes off aircraft carriers, giving that up to become a Navy Seal and then later running for John Kerry’s senate seat in 2013. He talked about leadership and how he was no different than anyone sitting in the audience, if we would just believe in ourselves and be willing to take risks. Here are a few of the things he learned during his time with the Navy SEALS:


1.  Extreme Ownership – The deed is all, not the glory.  We do what we do because we believe in its intrinsic value, that it’s important – so important that we’ll do what it takes to get it done and not worry about who gets the recognition.?

2.  Be Accountable – everyone must be held to a high standard and be prepared to give an AAR – an After Action Report to evaluate ourselves, our work, how we did and what we can do better.

3.  Cast no blame, make no excuses. Own it all and learn from your mistakes.

4.  You are a role model and no matter what, everyone around you is going to watch everything you do and say.  This is powerful.  What we do matters in the lives of others, whether it’s on the tennis court or in our day to day lives. Our integrity is on display to our families, our friends, our co-workers and everyone in our periphery.  In essence there are no neutral interactions. Every deed and word matter.

5.  How can you expect to do the big things right if you can’t do the little things right? Details matter – the little things become the big things and if we want to make a big impact, we have to pay attention to the little things.


His words certainly resonated with me, both as an individual but also as sister, daughter, friend, co-worker and leader. I hope you find value in them as well!


And I’ll leave you with the words of Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive of Community Tennis and USTA National Campus, “We aren’t in the tennis business.  We’re in the people business.” 

He reminded everyone present that it’s about the experience that we provide to our players.  If we don’t provide a great experience, then they’ll go somewhere else. This is super important as we work to grow tennis in Kentucky – never forget there is no tennis without people. So the question becomes, how can we continue to draw people into our game and give them a great experience so they’ll not only continue to play, but invite others to play too? 


If that doesn’t get your motor running, I don’t know what will! As we move into a super packed spring, summer and fall I hope you’ll take Gabe’s comments to heart and evaluate how you can continue to use tennis to make a difference where you are; and if you have ideas about how USTA Kentucky can improve the player experience, we’d love to hear from you!  Until next month…


Find your serve,